HUMOR MAY 2022
The Judge’s Daughter: Law School Circa 1913
By Pamela Buchmeyer
A 1913 yearbook for the University of Texas—this is what I recently unpacked from my father’s old dusty boxes. College faces and fashions from 109 years ago along with students’ hopes and dreams, cotillions and clubs, athletic feats, and prankish escapades filled its pages.
My father, the late Judge Jerry L. Buchmeyer, was a U.S. district judge, a 1957 LL.B. graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, a renowned raconteur, and a collector of oddities such as this historic publication. This Cactus yearbook is huge—480 pages, photographs, text, all with color printed borders that still retain bright hues.
And the largest section is a sophomoric satire, a lampoon of college life titled appropriately enough “Ye Cactus Thorne”—fitting for my dad, a talented legal humorist, who for 28 years wrote an amusing column for the Texas Bar Journal. Laughter is a great stress relief, then and now, you see.
The 1913 names are quaintly charming: Edleen, Myrtle, Hilda, Bess, and Violet for the ladies, plus Hinton, Grover, Woodfin, Balis, and Arvel for the men. Advertisements tout: “brick ice cream in all colors” sold at confection parlors; rooms both “commodious and attractive” at the Driskill Hotel for $3; rolltop desks for the princely sum of $15.75; and No. 10 Remington Typewriters featuring the newly invented carriage return (no more tedious adjustments by hand).
New spring suits for students were available at the House of Kuppenheimer, which is still in business today as the Men’s Warehouse. Visiting 1913 through these pages was most enjoyable, but poignant too, because I knew what lay ahead for these students—World War I and the Spanish Flu.
I’d like to donate this book to an interested person or institution. Please send your suggestions in this regard, along with your funny stories, memories, or anecdotes, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
ROSE IS A ROSE IS A LAW STUDENT
Rose C. Zelosky from Fort Worth is pictured in the above 1913 yearbook surrounded by an all-male group of students in the University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Law. The following year, 1914, Rose and Irene Brown from San Antonio became the first female graduates of the UT Department of Law—with LL.B. degrees. For my fellow history buffs: Anna Irene Sandbo became the first woman to earn an LL.M. from Texas Law in 1916, and she became a very well-known and influential lawyer in Austin. Confusion over the two types of law degrees resulted in muddled messages about which of these three amazing women were in fact Texas Law’s “first female law graduate.”
Interestingly, when the U.S. became involved in World War I, students who withdrew to enter military service in the spring of 1917 were given credit for their unfinished courses, provided that they had a passing grade. The University of Texas saw a 60% reduction in attendance at that time, which provides a segue to an amusing bit of testimony from a Texas man recalling his younger days.
Q: Have you ever been in the service?
A: Yes, sir. I went in ’40 and came out in less than 90 days. “I was too old for what they wanted,” they said.
Q: Were you given some sort of a medical discharge?
A: No, I was given an unconditional release. “I didn’t have enough teeth,” they said.
Q: I see. You were just getting too old, huh?
A: I told them I thought I was there to fight them, not bite them.
WORSE THAN COVID
Here’s a classic submission that combines sibling rivalry, Texas flora, and communicable illness all into one neat little package. In a medical malpractice case:
Q: When you say “family” are you limiting it to your brother?
A: The rest of them won’t have anything to do with me. They act like I got bluebonnet plague. [Highly contagious indeed!]
During the recent COVID-19 lockdown, lonely and distraught Americans embraced a record number of pet adoptions. So, it only makes sense that we’ll soon see more of the following type of testimony. As a matter of fact, I think this witness lives down the block from me.
Q: Tell me all the people that made the trip.
A: It was my mother, father, and my daughter.
Q: I’m sorry. Your daughter?
A: My daughter, uh-huh.
Q: I’m not hearing you well. Are we saying daughter, or dog?
A: Dog. She’s my daughter dog.
Q: I’m sorry. I must have a hearing problem. Is she your child or your pet?
A: Both…she’s a cocker spaniel spitz mix.
Also, on the topic of the value of higher education, here is a classic exchange shared by Al Ellis, of Dallas.
Q: What were you studying when you were going to college?
Dallas attorney Marsha L. Dekan has been collecting what my father called “typographical arrows” for several years. Here’s a few of her favorites found in legal documents:
Aquatint yourself with
Order of erection
Ritz of execution
Jester of goodwill
Kris Lang, a legal support professional, was working to get billing records from a Georgia business when the custodian of those documents became hysterical.
Q: My life has been threatened! By your firm’s paralegal.
Ms. Lang: What? That’s terrible. Maybe a mix-up?
Q: No, no, no. She threated to dispose of me!
Ms. Lang: Perhaps she threatened to depose you, instead?
DOGS SMELL BETTER
We know this is true, but one witness took the expression quite literally. Dinah J. Mueller, of League City, shares the funniest thing that ever happened to her in a courtroom. In Galveston County, an arresting officer testified that while he personally smelled marijuana and then proceeded to search a car where he found a shotgun, the K-9 officer on the scene did not, in fact, alert to the odor of narcotics.
Q: You testified that you smelled marijuana coming from the car, but that the dog did not smell anything. Is that correct?
Q: But officer, isn’t it true that as a general rule, dogs smell better than people?
A: Depending on the cologne they are wearing, of course.
This exchange was followed by much merriment from the members of the jury and the judge. Wishing you all many amusing moments until next time.TBJ
is an attorney and award-winning writer who lives in Dallas and Jupiter, Florida. Her work-in-progress is a humorous murder mystery, The Judge’s Daughter. She can be contacted at email@example.com.